President Armando Guebuza declared in Paris on 27 September that Mozambique is open to new French initiatives in various spheres of cooperation, particularly in economic matters and in security in the Mozambique Channel.
President Guebuza expressed this openness in meetings he held on the first day of a three-day working visit to France, with his host, French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace, and later with representatives of dozens of French companies.
Briefing journalists, Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze said it had been agreed to deepen cooperation between Mozambique and France in various spheres.
"This is a very fruitful and promising visit", said Banze. "Our President has shown openness and the two sides have agreed that cooperation should be deepened. The assessment is that relations are good, but there is space to expand them".
As for security in the Mozambique Channel, Banze said this is important both for Mozambique and for France, which has several island possessions in or near the Channel, such as Reunion and Mayotte.
As for the Mozambican order for the construction of 24 fishing boats and six patrol vessels at a shipyard in Cherbourg, Banze said "this shows concern about activities such as fishing - it is known that we are interested in developing fishing as it is vital in the fight against poverty".
He added the boats were also "an important component in controlling the security of the Mozambique Channel".
The purchase of the boats was announced in the French press, before any Mozambican source had mentioned it. The order represents two years' work for the Cherbourg shipyard. The official announcement was made by the French Minister of Industrial Renewal, Arnaud Montebourg.
The French media put the cost of the vessels at €200 million (about $267 million), although in some of the French sources the figure rises to €300 million.
The money will come from a $500 million bond issue by a new Mozambican company EMATUM (National Tuna Company). To all intents and purposes, EMATUM is a state company. The major shareholder in EMATUM is the Institute for the Management of State Holdings (IGEPE) with 34 per cent. The other shareholders are the state fishing company Emopesca and GIPS (Management of Investments, Holdings and Services), with 33 per cent each. GIPS was set up in December 2011, and its main shareholder is the social services of the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE).
Previously, Finance Minister Manuel Chang assured reporters that none of the money would come from the Mozambican state budget. The Mozambican state only entered the deal as a guarantor of the bonds, he said.
During his meeting with the business representatives, President Guebuza praised the work of some of the French companies already operating in Mozambique, said Banze. He also noted that others want to enter the Mozambican market, including Air France.
Banze added that President Guebuza has invited Hollande to visit Mozambique on dates to be agreed through diplomatic channels.